Scrivener and the Art of Organization

    I use Scrivener to write. I use it because I LOOOOOVE it and every so often, even after using it since Summer 2010, I will learn something that causes me to exclaim, “oh my GOD, that’s so cool.” Like this morning, when I learned that you can easily see thesaurus alternatives by hovering over the word and hitting Control-Command-D. A little bubble pops up and gives alternative words.
    I learned that little trick by reading David Hewson’s book Writing a Novel Using Scrivener. It was so worth the $5.99. I will say that the book is much easier to read on a computer, using the Kindle program for Mac (or PC, if that’s your preference), than on the handheld Kindle device because of the many screen shots. That might have something to do with the fact that I have a 2nd generation Kindle and the latest version, I hear, has better contrast.
    Scrivener works for me because I can adapt it so that it fits my writing style. I’m not quite a plotter — my outlines are rough descriptions of scenes, some of which are out of order, and they only go about 3/4 of the way through the novel. But I’m not a pantser because I do like having a map, however sketchy, to guide me through the writing process.
    I set up my Scrivener projects so I have a folder called “Storyboard” that contains the scenes I expect to write. This is my outline. I can move the scenes around, especially in the index card mode, as things change. Then I have a folder for the actual manuscript, which contains a folder for each chapter. As I write a scene, it goes into chapter folder. I also have folders for character sheets and research, such as photos and articles. I like having all my notes, outline, research, and current draft in one place. It makes me feel organized, trust me, I very rarely feel organized.
    Anyway, my tips for today:
1)  Give Scrivener a try. It’s cheap and fun and who doesn’t like cheap and fun? Remember college? (No, I don’t mean you were cheap and fun. You were just popular.) It’s easy to get distracted with the many software options out there, and you don’t want to waste time learning yet another new writing program that isn’t going to write your book for you. But this one inspires me to write, the way a trip to the office supply warehouses does. (I am a sucker for office supplies. Your pens are not safe near me.)
2)  If you do try Scrivener, check out David Hewson’s book. He’s a working writer who uses the program to write his novels and shares what works for him. But what’s so great about Scrivener is that even if Hewson’s method doesn’t work for you, you’re not stuck with it. There are a billion (give or take) ways to change the program to suit your style.

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